Blackjack, also called twenty-one or vingt-un, is the most popular casino game played worldwide and an ever-present feature of most casinos, both online and off. One of the reasons Blackjack is such a well-loved table game is because it offers some of the best odds you’ll find in a casino – in blackjack your chances of winning are almost equal to that of the house. Blackjack is also an exciting, social, and easy-to-learn game. Best of all, you can learn effective Blackjack betting strategy quickly, boosting your chances of winning.
Here we explain what Blackjack is and how it’s played. We’ll also detail popular Blackjack betting strategies, as well as some Blackjack betting tips.
What is Blackjack?
Blackjack is a card game where players compete against a dealer. The aim of Blackjack is to hold a hand of cards worth 21, or as close as you can get to 21.
You ask for cards from the dealer, one at a time, to try and get as near to a 21 total as you can. If you receive a card that takes you over the 21 total, then you’re ‘bust’ and you’re out of that round and lose the money you staked.
At the end of a round, if you have a hand that’s higher in value than the dealer’s, that’s closer to 21, you win.
How to bet in Blackjack: How is Blackjack played?
Blackjack is a table game in casinos which is run by a dealer.
You start a round of Blackjack by placing your bet. The dealer then deals you two cards, face-up (and everyone else playing that round also gets two face-up cards). The dealer gives themselves two cards, usually with one face-up, with the other face-down.
You then have four options:
- Hit: You add one more face-up card to your hand to try and get closer to 21.
- Stand: You don’t take another card and stick with your current hand.
- Double Down: You double the initial bet you made and you take one more card.
- Split: If dealt a matching pair of cards, you can split them into two separate hands which are played separately. You have to double your bet if you split.
Each player at the table has a turn, and you can have as many turns as you want before you hit or go bust.
Once all players have finished their turns, the dealer then reveals their facedown card. The dealer must then hit if their hand total is 16 or less, or stand if they have 17 or higher.
You win if your hand is higher than the dealer’s, or if the dealer goes bust. Your winnings are usually paid 1 to 1, meaning you get your bet back plus the same amount you staked. If you bet £10 and you win, you’ll get £20 back (your £10 bet and another £10).
If you win on your first two cards, by getting an Ace and a 10, it’s called a “Blackjack” or “Natural,” and you get back 1.5 times your bet. If you bet £10 and you win with a Natural, you’ll get £25 back (your £10 bet and another £15).
If your hand equals the dealer, it’s a draw (called a ‘push’), and you get your bet back.
When do you bet in Blackjack?
You place your bets in Blackjack at the start of a round before you receive your first two cards. Either place your chips in the betting box or make your bet online.
Blackjack Betting Strategies
There’s no single Blackjack betting strategy that will guarantee you win every hand you play.
Blackjack betting strategies are about making informed choices when you play that maximise your chances of winning a given hand, and that minimise your potential losses. An effective Blackjack betting strategy improves your chances of stepping away from a table with winnings and can enhance the fun you have playing Blackjack.
Here we outline basic Blackjack betting strategy, what the House Edge is, and explain some of the most widely used advanced Blackjack betting strategies.
Understanding House Edge and How this Applies to Blackjack
You’ve heard the phrase, ‘the house always wins’, and it’s true, in the long run. The house edge is the percentage a casino will win in the long-term for a given game.
In Blackjack, the house edge is modest – it’s around 2% over inexperienced Blackjack players. This means for every £100 bet, you’ll win back £98 and the house will win £2. There are short-term swings, of course, you might go on a lucky run and come out on top, or you might lose more, but over the long-term the blackjack house edge is 2%.
But, by using an effective Blackjack betting strategy, you can improve your odds of winning, and reduce the Blackjack house edge down to 0.5%. That’s one of the lowest possible margins you’ll find in a casino.
Basic Blackjack betting strategy
Try to memorise the following simple rules when playing Blackjack to improve your chances of winning:
- Stand on 17 or more: If the value of your hand is 17 or more, stand, as the chances are higher that the next card drawn will be more than four rather than less than four.
- Double down on 11: A hand of 11 from your first two cards is one of the best starting hands in blackjack. Take advantage of it by doubling down.
- Never split two 10s: Don’t be tempted. Always stand on a starting hand of two tens, as you’re more likely to win with a total of 20 than you are by splitting.
- Split a pair of 8s or Aces: The chances of winning are better if you spit a starting hand of two 8s or two Aces than it is to play off 16 or 12.
These are the essentials of basic Blackjack betting strategy, but it becomes more complicated based on what card the dealer is dealt. For example, if you have a hard hand of 16, and the dealer has a 6 or less, you should stick. But if the dealer has a 7 or an 8, you should hit, as you have a better chance of winning.
To help out with these more complicated aspects of Blackjack betting strategy, you can find blackjack strategy cards online that can help guide you through every betting scenario.
A hard hand in Blackjack is a hand of card that doesn’t contain an Ace.
If you’re dealt a hard hand, it’s best to follow the basic strategy above, standing on 17 or more, doubling down on 11, etc.
A soft hand in Blackjack is a starting hand of two cards that contains an Ace. That Ace can have the value of either 1 or 11, giving a player more options and a greater chance of winning.
If you’re dealt a soft hand, the best option is to double down, to take advantage of the flexibility of your hand.
Advanced Blackjack betting strategies:
On top of understanding basic Blackjack betting strategy, there are a range of more advanced strategies you can lean and use.
Steady Betting Strategy
The Steady Blackjack betting strategy is a simple, slow-burn approach. With this system, you simply always bet the exact same amount of money on each hand, no matter if you’ve won or lost the previous hand.
This approach limits your losses, balances them with your wins, and gives you the consistency and clarity of always knowing how much you’ve bet and how much you stand to win or lose.
Oscar’s Betting Strategy
Also called Oscar’s Grind, Oscar’s system is a positive-progressive betting strategy. It’s an approach based on trying to minimise your losses and amass lots of small wins to gradually build your overall winnings.
With Oscar’s Blackjack betting strategy, you divide your betting into cycles that end when you win.
At the start of a cycle, you place a bet (called a unit in the Oscar’s approach). If you win, that cycle ends. The next bet you place is the start of a new cycle and you bet one unit.
If you lose that first bet, the cycle continues, and you bet one more unit on the second hand. If you win on the second hand, you then increase your bet to two units on your third hand. For each win in that cycle, you continue to add one unit to your bet, until eventually, your overall winnings equal one unit, and that cycle ends.
For example, you might decide to bet in units of £5, and your play might happen this this:
Oscar’s Blackjack betting strategy rewards patience and careful play. It allows you to lose multiple hands in a row without suffering big losses, but with time, your winnings should eventually cover your losses.
Another advanced Blackjack betting strategy, for those who can hold numbers well in their head, is card counting.
With card counting, you keep track of the cards that have been drawn from a deck, so you know which ones have already been used and which ones are still to come. This improves your odds of guessing correctly which cards will be drawn next. High cards are more beneficial in blackjack, so if a deck has more 10s, face cards, and Aces left, your advantage increases and you should increase your bets.
One simple system to count cards in Blackjack is to hold one total number in your head, beginning at 0 as a new deck of cards or shoe of cards is used. Then as each card is drawn, change that number as follows:
- 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 card is dealt: Add 1.
- 7, 8, or 9 card is dealt: No change
- 10, J, Q, K, or A is dealt: Minus 1.
You then raise the value of your bets when the number you have in your head rises.
A word of note, you can’t count cards with online Blackjack, as the deck is effectively shuffled after each round and card draws become random.
Play Blackjack at Grosvenor Casinos
Now you’ve read through our Blackjack betting guide, put your new blackjack betting tips into action with Grosvenor Casinos. Play in one of our 52 casino venues across the country, or play live Blackjack online from the comfort of your home.